SAN JOSE -- For one reason or another, Eric Fehr didn't fit into the plans of the Toronto Maple Leafs any longer.
The Leafs had acquired Fehr from the Pittsburgh Penguins in a trade on March 1, 2017, but the veteran centerman skated in just one game with Toronto the rest of the season.
Last season, he got into just four games with the Leafs and was stashed in the American Hockey League, on loan to the San Diego Gulls.
Seemingly unable to gain any traction in Toronto, Fehr's NHL career was at a crossroads.
It wasn't as though Fehr's game had disappeared. He scored eight goals and 14 points in 55 games with Pittsburgh in 2015-16, helping the Penguins win the Stanley Cup.
But with a year and a half remaining on a three-year contract he signed with Pittsburgh in 2015, Fehr was never given a realistic opportunity to get into the lineup with Toronto.
Video: Wild pregame at San Jose
At 32 years old, Fehr was happy just to get an opportunity to keep playing hockey by moving on to San Diego.
"Last season was a real adventure," Fehr said. "There were a lot of moving parts and I'm just happy that it all worked out in the end and I was able to play some meaningful hockey."
That meaningful hockey came here in San Jose when the Sharks acquired Fehr from the Maple Leafs in a Feb. 20 trade, rescuing Fehr from a nearly one-year ordeal north of the border. The Wild centerman returns to San Jose for the first time tonight when Minnesota continues its seven-game road trip against the Sharks at SAP Center.
Fehr played in 14 games down the stretch for San Jose, scoring three goals and four points and posting a plus-7. He also had a goal, an assist and a plus-3 in 10 playoff contests.
"You just gotta continue to try and get better every day and I think the main thing for me was to be able to play, and I wasn't going to do that in Toronto," Fehr said. "Finding a landing spot, I was lucky enough to go to San Diego where they gave me some ice time, I was able to prove that I could still play and that I have a lot left.
"I'm real thankful San Jose took the chance and gave me the opportunity and I think it worked out well for both of us."
Fehr translated that effectiveness with the Sharks into a one-year contract with Minnesota during the summer, where he'd get a chance to play for his former coach with the Hershey Bears and Washington Capitals, Wild coach Bruce Boudreau.
Video: Boudreau practice update in San Jose
The two won a Calder Cup together with the Bears in 2006, and when Boudreau was promoted to the Capitals' bench in 2007, Fehr was one of several young call ups available. The two were then together in Washington for three seasons.
Despite that familiarity from years past, Boudreau said it was actually Fehr's time in Pittsburgh in 2015-16 and 2016-17 that stood out most to him when the Wild was considering him as an option this summer.
"I had him in Hershey and in Washington and he was an offensive guy and wasn't really big on the defensive play," Boudreau said. "But when he was playing in Pittsburgh as a third or fourth-line guy, he was being put out in all the defensive situations, which I took notice of. And I thought he played really good for San Jose when he got called up last year.
"He was always on my radar because he hadn't gotten worse, he had gotten smarter and learned the defensive aspect of the game."
In 13 games with the Wild, Fehr has continued to provide tremendous value, scoring two goals and six points, while playing important fourth-line role and killing penalty-killing roles.
Fehr has also found a home after a tumultuous couple of seasons where his future in pro hockey was in serious jeopardy, something that may not have been possible had the Sharks not reached out and acquired him last winter.
"You definitely have a better appreciation for everything," Fehr said. "You just want to make plays and you want to be out there."
Here are the projected lineups:
Jordan Greenway - Eric Staal - Charlie Coyle
Zach Parise - Mikko Koivu - Mikael Granlund
Nino Niederreiter - Joel Eriksson Ek - Jason Zucker
Marcus Foligno - Eric Fehr - J.T. Brown
Ryan Suter - Matt Dumba
Jonas Brodin - Jared Spurgeon
Nick Seeler - Greg Pateryn
Evander Kane - Joe Pavelski - Joonas Donskoi
Timo Meier - Logan Couture - Kevin LeBanc
Barclay Goodrow - Joe Thornton - Marcus Sorensen
Rourke Chartier - Antti Suomela - Melker Karlsson
Joakim Ryan - Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon - Erik Karlsson
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun
Wild Warmup: Minnesota at San Jose